The Boston Bruins begin a home-and-home series in Buffalo on Thursday night against the Sabres. It’s only December, but these two games against an inferior opponent can be viewed as must-wins for the B’s, who’ve lost two straight, three of their last four and eight of the last 11 games.
A poor start in which the Bruins allowed the Columbus Blue Jackets to open a 3-0 first-period lead doomed them Tuesday night. Boston must be better prepared to start games and not be forced to play catchup hockey so often. That’s not a style the Bruins want to play considering how ineffective their offense has been for most of the season (25th in goals scored per game, 29th on the power play).
The Sabres appear headed for another spring without playoff hockey, but they’re not to be taken lightly. Former Boston University star Jack Eichel scored an incredible goal Tuesday night and has played very well against his hometown Bruins in his young career. He has tallied 10 points in 13 games since making his return from injury late last month.
Here are the projected lines and pairings for both teams.
BOSTON BRUINS (18-15-4)
Brad Marchand–Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Ryan Spooner–David Krejci–David Backes
Frank Vatrano–Austin Czarnik–Riley Nash
Anton Blidh–Dominic Moore–Jimmy Hayes
Zdeno Chara–Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug–Adam McQuaid
Kevan Miller–Colin Miller
BUFFALO SABRES (13-13-8)
Marcus Foligno–Jack Eichel–Matt Moulson
Zemgus Girgensons–Sam Reinhart–Kyle Okposo
Evander Kane–Johan Larsson–Brian Gionta
Nicolas Deslauriers–Derek Grant–Will Carrier
Jake McCabe–Rasmus Ristolainen
Zach Bogosian–Cody Franson
Josh Gorges–Justin Falk
Thumbnail photo via Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY Sports Images